Clarizen recently released Clarizen V6, a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) project management platform that supports internal and external social collaboration, drag and drop resource allocation, a new user interface, object preview, a new search engine, and improved document collaboration. Pricing for Clarizen V6 varies based on the edition: Professional, Enterprise, or Unlimited.
I've been following the progress of Clarizen V6's development for several months and used the trial version to test it. Here are my first impressions of Clarizen V6, as well as some setup tips and features highlights.
I'm a fan of democratizing project management data, so I like that the Clarizen V6 setup includes options for inviting other users and importing a Microsoft Project file when you set up your first project (Figure A).
Import a Microsoft Project file to start a Clarizen project. (See an enlarged view of the image.)
Clarizen opens with an Overview screen (Figure B) that is well laid out and displays critical project details in a way that would be easy for any team member to consume.
Overview of a typical project in Clarizen. (See an enlarged view of the image.)
Unfortunately, during the run-up to my deadline, my test account was rendered inactive by Clarizen, and I had issues regaining access for a day. I also got a 404 error when I tried to reset my password. These were temporary nuisances.
New user interface and search tool
While a Gantt chart view still serves its purposes, SaaS-based project management tools like Clarizen offer accessibility to a range of users. The new user interface is well designed and enables team members who aren't project managers to use Clarizen V6 to its full effectiveness.
Clarizen V6 includes Object Preview, which provides team members with the entire context they need around any system entity, including projects, tasks, documents, and conversations. The option to drill down into project details using just a mouse equalizes project information access for all team members.
Clarizen V6 also includes a new search engine for helping team members search project information.
Internal and external social collaboration tools
The convergence of social collaboration and project management has been a mixed bag in many respects. However, since so many project teams have to collaborate directly with external customers and contractors, I see more vendors upping their social collaboration game. I predict Clarizen will be one of the leaders in project management and enterprise social convergence.
Clarizen V6 lets users link conversations to a project element, including tasks, milestones, and deadlines. It's an element of the project management/enterprise social convergence in Clarizen that seems so simple on the surface, but the implementation is much tighter. Figure C shows the start of a conversation linked to a project element in the test project I set up for this article.
Linking a conversation to a project element in Clarizen V6. (See an enlarged view of the image.)
When a team starts a discussion from within a project, they can use hash tags to establish discussion threads, keyword tags, and the targeting of participants for conversations using the @ symbol.
There is also the promise of starting workflows directly from a discussion within Clarizen. Figure D shows task creation from within a discussion inside a Clarizen project.
Creating a task from within a discussion in Clarizen V6. (See an enlarged view of the image.)
Click Add Other from the start of a discussion to access options (Figure E) for adding documents, expense reports, work items, Gantt widgets, or roadmap widgets.
Other Options in Clarizen V6. (See an enlarged view of the image.)
Clarizen has big ambitions for social tools in its flagship application. While I agree in principle with the vision of its CEO Avinoam Nowogrodski on the future of project management and collaboration, I see highly collaborative organizations or new teams as the best fit for Clarizen V6. There could be some adoption issues in more dysfunctional environments considering the transparency that the platform offers. Even then, Clarizen V6 can become a powerful tool of change with the right project manager and management sponsorship.
Resource allocations can be a trouble spot with traditional project management applications, but drag and drop resource allocation works in Clarizen V6 as advertised. Once project managers test it out, they'll want to use it.
There's a practicality in centralizing your documents and project management platform through integration or on-board file storage. Clarizen V6 integrates with Box and Google Drive. I was able to link to a document in my Google Drive seamlessly within a few clicks directly from the Clarizen project overview page.
You can also create notes directly in Clarizen. This can be helpful for recording decisions and other project details.
In addition, Clarizen lets teams record their time and expenses, complete with a workflow to send the report to management for approval.
While I have to ding Clarizen V6 for the access issues I had the two days prior to my deadline for this article, it can be par for the course in the cloud world. However, the product's features outweigh the temporary nuisance of those issues. Clarizen V6 is an ideal solution for project teams and organizations that want to centralize project management, collaboration, and communications.
Will Kelly is a freelance technical writer and analyst currently focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consumerization of IT. He has also written about cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization, project management applications, Google Apps, Microsoft technologies, and online collaboration for TechRepublic and other sites. Will also works as a contract technical writer for clients in the Washington, DC area and nationwide. Follow Will on Twitter: @willkelly.